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Reasonably Priced, Adventurous and Healthy Food

So my girlfriend is on a pretty serious diet and I want to respect that without sacrificing our ability to enjoy a great meal together. However, her feedback is that you don't know what the restaurant puts into the recipe to make it taste so great, and thus something healthy at home can be deadly while eating out. Unfortunately, I don't think I can disagree with her on this point and am thus reaching out to my fellow hounds for advice.

I am looking for a conversation friendly restaurant generally between Houston and 32nd that is committed to quality, healthy dining (but not vegan, no offense meant, I just love me some meat) with entrees priced around $12 - $20. Ideally there would be more than 1 or 2 healthy items on the menu so we can be repeat customers. Your suggestions are greatly appriciated.

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  1. What about sashimi or anything with a raw bar? That way you know that no oil, butter, etc. has been added in the cooking process.

    Also, you could get some oysters at Aquagrill and then order some fish entrees -- they can easily cook any of their entrees with any added fat.

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Aquagill seems like a great possibility.

      I should have noted that I was looking to expand beyond sashimi / raw bar, which has been our compromise.

      1. re: MattDiG

        Imo, Greek restaurants provide both health-conscious folks and carnivores the opportunity to dine well.

        Our current favorite is Kellari's Parea, on 20th St., b/t Park Av. S. & B'way. There are many delicious mezzes, though your g.f. would have to decide which, if any, would suit her diet. But you can always start with their excellent, lightly-dressed Greek salad (your g.f. can skip the large slices of feta if she prefers). Though the prices for main courses are somewhat higher than your budget (most are mid-20's), there are lots of meaty choices for you -- including the superb moussaka, a sizable portion @ $18.95 -- while the expertly grilled whole fish drizzled with lemon juice would be perfect for your g.f. And she can get steamed greens to go with it.

        http://www.kellari-parea.com

      2. re: kathryn

        Aqua grill is kinda pricey, no?

        1. re: 2slices

          Here is the part of the menu I was recommending:

          Grilled, Poached or Roasted
          Atlantic Salmon $17
          Chatham Cod $18
          Diver Sea Scallops $19
          Yellowfin Tuna $19
          Florida Snapper $19
          Australian Barramundi $19
          Free Range Chicken $16
          Dry Aged Sirloin Steak $30
          Butter Poached Lobster Market Price

          Almost everything fits in the range of $12-20 for an entree save for the steak and lobster.

      3. It's outside your price range and neighborhood, but for healthy food that tastes food check out the cafe at Rouge Tomate. It's an outpost of a belgium restaurant thats dedicated to healty cooking techinques.

        1. Three blocks north of your range, but check out Josie's:

          http://www.josiesnyc.com/josie_east/j...

          It's not amazing, but it's good, and healthy is what they do.

          3 Replies
          1. re: small h

            We traveled just outside our range to try Josie's East on Saturday night and will definitely be going back. I’m not sure if my feedback will do the quality of the food justice, as I haven’t done this before, but here it goes.

            I found the atmosphere to be excellent, with the tables reasonable spaced and non-intrusive music at a volume conducive to conversation but also load enough to drown out the conversation of others. Moreover, our server was beyond attentive.

            In terms of the offerings, we were able to find menu items that we did not feel guilty ordering, and my girl friend was pleasantly surprised that she was able to choose from many choices without violating her diet. That is until we discovered the portion size, which was more than generous. With food this good, it was difficult not to gorge ourselves. None the less, we left with about half our entrees in a bag and feeling almost over stuffed.

            Now for the good part:

            One of the highlights of the meal was the sweat potato and tahini spread provided for the bread. I will be trying to recreate this at home as it was simply excellent.

            Shared Appetizer:
            PAN SEARED SPICY BLACK BEAN DUMPLINGS
            These were the result of a compromise between my girlfriend and me, but I found them to be a little bland. If you really made sure they were coated in the mango sauce, they were passable. However, I would not order them again.

            Entrees:
            VEGGIE PLATE DELUXE
            This plate included a wide verity of veggies that were perfectly seasoned. Additionally, the tahini sauce on the side allowed for the extra flavor I needed when stealing a taste, without compromising the plate being a healthy option.

            SESAME-ANCHO RUBBED AQUANOR NATURAL SALMON
            The salmon was obviously fresh, cooked well with a pleasant light marinade. The true surprise was the bountiful steamed veggies that accompanied the dish.

            1. re: MattDiG

              I'm so glad you liked it! And thanks for reporting back - now I know I can recommend the place again.

            2. re: small h

              I love josie's- it is the perfect place to take anyone vegan or meat eater!!! I really like the spicy black bean dumplings!!

            3. On 32nd Street between 5th and Broadway, you've got the heart of Koreatown. Not all Korean food is about BBQ. There are a lot of healthy soups and casseroles prepared with minimal fat. Most of the banchan (free side dishes) that come with your meal are fairly healthy. Just avoid things like the fried fish cakes. Lots of meat, seafood and veggies in the cuisine. And lots of dishes in your price range that you name. The only thing is that a lot of the food can be spicy (if that's also in your definition of healthy). But there are nonspicy items you can choose from as well.

              And perhaps something like Turkish Kitchen in Murray Hill? There are grilled meats, grilled seafood, vegetarian mezes, etc. Some of the items there will be more than $20, but there are definitely enough things on the menu within your price range.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Miss Needle

                hwe dup bap is a korean dish that would fit the bill to a 't', sashimi mixed with rice, greens/veggies and mildly spicy cho jang sauce. There is also a version (I don't know the name of) that does not have the rice, just salad/vegies and sashimi with the cho jang sauce.

                1. re: dhs

                  Is there a specific place you would recommend trying this dish?

              2. What about soba? The cheaper options are Sobaya and Sobakoh in East Village (I prefer the latter). If you want more upscale with more options than just soba noodles, Matsugen is an alternative. Most of the dishes there are very light, albeit a bit expensive.

                1. Hampton Chutney in Soho. This is more of a place for lunch, but i absolutely get craving for it.